Friday, July 21, 2006

Remember Kids: Take Me Out in the Street and Shoot Me

I admit it. I'm not as patient with my parents and mother-in-law as I should be. It isn't that I don't love them, I do. We've gotten to the "I'm the parent, you're the kid" stage and it's a little bit heartbreaking. These bright, vibrant people are starting to have all their quirks show up in the worst ways.

A few days ago my mother called to let me know they had gotten an offer on their property in Arkansas (where the house burned down). The real estate agent from down there is also a friend of theirs and happened to be in California visiting her children. She had e-mailed an attachment to my parents with the offer. Mom was frustrated because she couldn't get the e-mail to appear, it was being blocked by McAfee spamkiller.

First thing you need to know is this: My mother should not be allowed to be around any technology. Ever. Yes, she worked with computers once-upon-a-time. PC's that were first born without a mouse. She is the one who thought you just held the mouse and did things and stuff moved on the computer - she didn't know you had to actually move the mouse.

So I called the real estate agent and had her e-mail the information to me. It came in fine, in a *.pdf format and I printed it and took it to my parents that same night. (They now live 40 minutes away instead of 9+ hours away. Oh. Yea.) They were thrilled, did what they needed to, and went to their public library to fax the info back to the agent. All was well in the world.

Until last night.

(Did I mention that I found the document in my mom's e-mail and showed her how to get into the spamkiller and find things that were blocked and release them? Of course I wrote down the instructions. I always do.)

Last night as I settled in for a relaxing night of ... whatever... the phone rings. My mother has received more information from the real estate agent and they are to read stuff, fill it out, sign it and send it back. She can't get it to come up in a size that isn't printing on four pages. It's huge. We talk. This time they must have scanned in the documents and sent each one as a *.jpg. Greeeaaat... change the format on my mother. Just what she needs.

Being 40 miles away and not having her computer programs memorized, I begin trying to walk her through various ones to try and bring in the pictures to print from them. First, of course, having to get her to SAVE the ones that have come. Task one. Completed. Now we try this one. No go. That one. No luck. Since I don't have exactly the same programs, I'm trying to figure out what she's looking at by having her tell me. This isn't working so well. Finally after getting totally frustrated (yes, I worked with her on the phone for about an hour), I suggested she forward the e-mail to me, let me see if I could do something with it and send it back.

The e-mails come trickling in. The first one, with two attachments, comes in three times. The second one, with six attachments, comes in two times. Okay, Mom. Got it. Stop pushing the buttons!

Now I look. I bring them into MS Word, save them as a document, and e-mail them back. Well, I e-mail the one with two attachments back. The other one turns out to be a big honker and I don't dare zip it up, it would take another 4 hours to go through zipping and unzipping. I decide that I'll send each one on it's own... but also decide if I'm going to do this I'm going in the bedroom on the laptop so I can at least watch TV while doing it. I get set up, open my e-mail program, and there is a message from my mom. "Still won't print". WTF?

I call.
Me:It won't print?
Mom: Nope.
Me: The printer is on, right? (Hey, I HAD to ask!)
Mom: Yes.

We try a couple of things and it won't even print a test page. Nothing. It was printing earlier, she says - that's how she knew the documents were too big to fit on the page. Arrrggghhh! By now we're looking at 10 o'clock and I know I'M tired... I will print off everything and run it down to them first thing in the morning and will check out the printer at that time.

This morning I'm up bright and early and go to my folks. I hand them the papers I printed and headed right for the computer. Printer on. Check. Paper in. Check. Look for documents on computer. They're there. Check. Try to print. No go. I look at the print que and there are a couple of weird things. I clear out the print que. I turn the printer off and on. I try to print. Nothing.

Hmmm.... once more I go to print que. Weird doc is still there. Okay, I'll play the silly game... I'll let it print. It does. It was the extra large e-mail pages that Mom had been trying to print. Once I got them cleared out of the que, I had no trouble at all. I found out she had more than one graphics program (that were very easy to use) that she should have been able to print the *.jpg's from. I tried it. It worked. We looked through and tried to print the one I'd sent her. It worked. Hmmm... now it won't mess up. What's up?

Mom: Go back to that window where you saw the printer stuff
Me: The print window?
Mom: Yeah, that one you just had up.
Me: Okay...
Mom: There! You are supposed to check that box... "Print the file"
Me: It says "Print TO file"... have you been checking that box each time?
Mom: ....yes....

I'm at work now. I'm missing a big patch of hair on the left side where I grabbed it and pulled as hard as I could with frustration as I drove out of the drive. (kidding! geez!) My mother swears up and down she's going to pay me back for all the trouble. Please, mom... don't.